Tristram Shandy

Full Text

Chapter 4.L.

Full Text Chapter 4.L.

Chapter 4.L.

There is nothing shews the character of my father and my uncle Toby, in a more entertaining light, than their different manner of deportment, under the same accident—for I call not love a misfortune, from a persuasion, that a man's heart is ever the better for it—Great God! what must my uncle Toby's have been, when 'twas all benignity without it.

My father, as appears from many of his papers, was very subject to this passion, before he married—but from a little subacid kind of drollish impatience in his nature, whenever it befell him, he would never submit to it like a christian; but would pish, and huff, and bounce, and kick, and play the Devil, and write the bitterest Philippicks against the eye that ever man wrote—there is one in verse upon somebody's eye or other, that for two or three nights together, had put him by his rest; which in his first transport of resentment against it, he begins thus:

'A Devil 'tis—and mischief such doth work
As never yet did Pagan, Jew, or Turk.'

(This will be printed with my father's Life of Socrates, &c. &c.)

In short, during the whole paroxism, my father was all abuse and foul language, approaching rather towards malediction—only he did not do it with as much method as Ernulphus—he was too impetuous; nor with Ernulphus's policy—for tho' my father, with the most intolerant spirit, would curse both this and that, and every thing under heaven, which was either aiding or abetting to his love—yet never concluded his chapter of curses upon it, without cursing himself in at the bargain, as one of the most egregious fools and cox-combs, he would say, that ever was let loose in the world.

My uncle Toby, on the contrary, took it like a lamb—sat still and let the poison work in his veins without resistance—in the sharpest exacerbations of his wound (like that on his groin) he never dropt one fretful or discontented word—he blamed neither heaven nor earth—or thought or spoke an injurious thing of any body, or any part of it; he sat solitary and pensive with his pipe—looking at his lame leg—then whiffing out a sentimental heigh ho! which mixing with the smoke, incommoded no one mortal.

He took it like a lamb—I say.

In truth he had mistook it at first; for having taken a ride with my father, that very morning, to save if possible a beautiful wood, which the dean and chapter were hewing down to give to the poor (Mr. Shandy must mean the poor in spirit; inasmuch as they divided the money amongst themselves.); which said wood being in full view of my uncle Toby's house, and of singular service to him in his description of the battle of Wynnendale—by trotting on too hastily to save it—upon an uneasy saddle—worse horse, &c. &c...it had so happened, that the serous part of the blood had got betwixt the two skins, in the nethermost part of my uncle Toby—the first shootings of which (as my uncle Toby had no experience of love) he had taken for a part of the passion—till the blister breaking in the one case—and the other remaining—my uncle Toby was presently convinced, that his wound was not a skin-deep wound—but that it had gone to his heart.